Man on the Moon

There is a story that shortly after John F. Kennedy gave his “man on the moon” speech, he was touring Cape Canaveral. During the tour he came across a custodian working in one of the corridors. When he asked the custodian what he was doing he quickly replied, “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”  Whether this exchange actually happened or not, the message it drives home is very real. When people have a shared vision and feel a part of something greater than themselves there is no limit to what they can do. Including putting a man on the moon using 1960’s technology!

What a beautiful reality it would be to have every person in an organization feeling that everything they do is contributing to a greater cause. A cause that requires each person doing his or her job to the best of their ability to make it happen. When I think of this scenario, my mind instantly goes to the school setting. What if every teacher, custodian, secretary, volunteer and administrator gave the same answer when asked what they were doing, “I’m making the world a better place, one student at a time.

We don’t have to be the president or a world leader to have a vision and get people to commit to it. As educators, each one of us can set high standards for our students, provide the support they need, and make them believe that great things can happen when we do our best and work together. President Kennedy didn’t get a chance to see his vision realized and as educators, we may not always get to witness the fruits of our labors. But if history shows us anything, it’s that human beings will rise to a challenge and can accomplish anything if they are empowered. Share your vision with your students and staff and empower them to make the impossible come true!

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“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” – Stephen Hawking

Among Friends

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the National Principals Conference in Chicago. I was a little nervous attending as this was my first national conference. Luckily, I knew fellow Michigan principal, Allyson Apsey was attending, so I would have at least one person I knew there. Actually, I knew MANY of the people that would be attending, but had only connected with the others online. Some, like Jennifer Hogan for several years through the #CompelledTribe of Ed Bloggers and others only a short time. As I was standing in the registration line, wondering how to navigate my way through the conference, I heard a shout of “Hey Jon!”. It was Jimmy Casas and Bobby Dodd calling to me as they came over and shook my hand like we had met many times before and instantly I knew I was among friends.

Within a few minutes I had met up with Allyson and Jennifer and we saw the inspirational Dr. Adolph Brown in the first general session. Jennifer was just as positive & energetic in person as she had been online and I could see right away why she was being honored as the Assistant Principal of the Year from Alabama. At lunch time, I was invited to eat pizza with Jethro Jones, who I had only met online, since he resides in Alaska. Over a deep dish Chicago pizza, we talked about education, our previous work together on his Transformative Principal podcast, and our families. My interactions with other educators, was similar. They were simple, real, and genuine. For the next three days, I attended inspirational sessions, met with charismatic educators from all across the country, and most importantly, developed friendships with people that are literally changing the world of education. As I reflected on the conference, there were three big takeaways from my experiences.

We Can’t Do It Alone: For several days, I met the movers and shakers of the education world. Authors, speakers, and innovators who I openly admit that I felt some hero worship for.  However, they all treated me as a fellow educator and I felt that we were all on the same “team”. There were no egos or claiming to have all the answers. Quite the contrary, these leaders were asking to hear stories from others and looking for ways to improve their craft by connecting with others just as I was. I heard time and again, we need to lift each other up, support one another, and celebrate our profession. From chatting with people at the conference about finding the unicorn of work/life balance, to conversations at dinner about the emotional night the Chicago Cubs won the world series, to singing songs with new friends at karaoke, the message was clear: We can’t do this alone and we are better together!

Just Do It: When I asked many of the innovative leaders how they got started with a podcast, or authored a book, or became a speaker they often gave me the same answer: “I just started doing it.” One thing about leaders is that they don’t wait for someone else to do it. When they see a need, they do something to address it. If they have an idea, they share it. If they want to get educators together, they create a podcast or start an online group. Those presenting were people who didn’t just have good ideas, they acted on those ideas and learned from their mistakes just as much or more than they did from their successes. Leaders need to listen, reflect, and continually learn, but they also need to take action!

We Are Here To Serve: The phrase that kept ringing in my ears long after the conference was from Dr. Adolph Brown who said “If service is beneath you, then leadership will always be above you.” As educators, we serve our students, our staff, and our community. Maybe that’s why all the leaders that I connected with and admire so much were so humble. They know we are not in it for recognition or self-gain. They are driven by a desire to make a difference in the lives of their students and to make their schools and staff the best that they can be!

As I reflect on the National Principals Conference, I measure its impact by one simple question. Did I leave the conference a better educator than when I came in? Yes, I did, and what’s more, I gained some friends along the way. Friends that will continue to inspire me and help me become a better educator and hopefully I can do the same for others!

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“Don’t just talk about excellence…Live your excellence!” – Jimmy Casas

“It all comes down to relationships. Without relationships no real learning occurs.” – Eric Sheninger

“If service is beneath you, leadership will always be above you.” – Dr. Adolph Brown

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Jimmy Casas                                      Bobby Dodd

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  • Tuesday, September 4: First Day for Students 12:10 dismissal
  • Wednesday, September 5: iReady Window 1 opens
  • Thursday, September 6: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Monday, September 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 (Respect)
  • Tuesday, September 11: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, September 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM in Conference Room
  • Thursday, September 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, September 14: Fire Drill 3:05 PM (This will count as our “passing time” drill)
  • Monday, September 17: Celebrate Monday 9:05, iReady Window 1 closes
  • Tuesday, September 18: Tornado Drill 11:30 AM
  • Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Lifetouch Picture Day in the East Commons
  • Monday, September 24 – Friday, September 28: Book Fair in East Commons
  • Thursday, September 27: Curriculum Night / Open House 6:00-7:30 PM

The Director’s Chair

Recently, I was watching an interview with Quentin Tarantino where he described his journey toward becoming a director and some of the lessons he had learned along the way.  The interview was intriguing to me as a movie lover, but I also found many of the points he made were relevant to my role as a school principal.  Here are some takeaways that I found useful for the world of education.

Know your story: When asked about directing his first film, he said he was extremely nervous, because everyone seemed to know more about things than he did.  The lighting and sound crew knew their jobs, the production crew were all seasoned, and it was the first time he had directed professional actors.  The only thing that kept him focused and his confidence high was that he knew the story better than anyone else.  He had written it, polished it, and knew how he wanted it to be told.  Holding tight to that vision of how the story would be told made him the expert and helped him through all of the areas that he would learn as he went.  School leaders need to know their story as well.  We don’t need to be the expert in every area, but we need to have a vision of where we want the school to go.  If we can do that, everything else will fall into place!

Failure is okay: Coming off several hit films, Quentin Tarantino said that he started to feel that audiences would follow him where ever he led.  His fourth film, a box office disaster, showed him that wasn’t the case.  He described the experience by saying “I felt like my girlfriend just broke up with me…and my girlfriend was planet Earth!”. The failure caused him to redouble his efforts, start fresh with a new story and pour his heart and soul into another film project.  The attention to detail was so intense that he shared he did 34 takes on one scene that lasted only a few seconds.  It had to be perfect!  The next venture was a success, but he never took that success for granted again.  As educators, we need to be willing to take risks, fall on our face, and then brush ourselves off and try again.  The more we model risk-taking the more our students will do the same and learn to look at failure as a stepping stone to success.

Make them shine: Quentin Tarantino is often credited for taking overlooked or forgotten actors and spotlighting them in his movies.  He has launched, resurrected, and jump-started many careers.  He said in the interview that he often sees actors in films serving in minor roles and thinks, “If I could give them a good role, I know they would shine.”  How true that is for our teacher leaders as well!  If we give teachers the chance to shine and the freedom to dream big and act big, then they will do so and the result will be more successful students.

Do what you love: The constant theme throughout the interview was his love of movies. Quentin Tarantino doesn’t just make movies, he studies them, emulates them, pays homage to them, and loves everything about them.  It was amazing to see his vast knowledge of directors, actors, genres, musical scores, and techniques.  He mentioned several times that he sees himself as a story teller and loves every part of that process from writing, to directing, to producing.  In the same manner, we know that educators who love what they do are the most successful.  You can’t fake being a good educator, because students will know.  We need to bring our passion, our drive, and our love of teaching with us each and every day to school.  Yes, there will be tough days, but if we are doing what we love, those tough days will fade away and we will be left with happy memories and the satisfaction that we did our very best for every child.

As I reflect on that interview, I realize that those of us in education will probably never have a fan base, never get interviewed, and never achieve fame and fortune.  That’s okay, we get our reward with each smile, each hug, and each life that we make better.  As you prepare to start a new school year, remember to know the story you want to tell, don’t be afraid to fail, make your students shine, and most importantly, remember to have fun and do what you love.  For me, that means serving students and staff in the job I love…a school principal!

photo credit: amc.com

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  • “I have loved movies as the number one thing in my life so long that I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t.” 
  • “I am a genre lover – everything from spaghetti western to samurai movies.” 
  • “My plan is to have a theater in some small town…I’ll be the crazy old movie guy.” 

Some Summer Laughs with Gerry Brooks! 

A Cup of Joe

During the last month of school, I had the opportunity to sub in a kindergarten classroom.  With the sub shortage, this seems to be happening more frequently.  However, I always enjoy the chance to get back in the classroom and interact with the students and since I have an early childhood endorsement, kindergarten is a good fit!  While it was only a couple of hours in the room, it certainly brought me right back to my teaching days.  One of the first things I realized while subbing is why I never drank coffee while I was teaching. Teachers don’t get a chance to leave the classroom when they need to or for that matter take their eyes off their students. I was regretting my decision of drinking my usual two cups of coffee before the bell rang.  As a principal, I may have a lot of issues that come up during the day, but I can always take a bathroom break as needed.  Not so for the classroom teacher!

While I truly appreciate all the classroom teachers do on a daily basis and the magic that happens each time a student says, “I get it!“, there is no substitute for getting into the classroom to see them teach and really understand all they do.  I wish our parents, community members, and even our legislators could spend some time in classrooms and see how our teachers perform the amazing job of engaging our students and igniting that love of learning all while managing behaviors, wiping tears (and noses) and covering more curriculum than ever before.  Better yet, I would like to have folks try their hand at actually teaching for a day rather than watching. I think the appreciation for teachers and the respect they deserve would go through the roof!

While it’s been many years since I’ve had a classroom of my own, I still consider myself a teacher at heart.  I also consider all the students in our school “my kids“.  However, I never forget that the true heroes are the teachers in the classrooms, inspiring students, modeling a love of learning, and changing the world for the better one student at a time.  As a principal, I get to enjoy my morning cup of Joe each morning and take a bathroom break whenever I need it, but I never forget those days before I started drinking coffee and when I had a classroom of my own.

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“Coffee is a language in itself.” – Jackie Chan

“To me, the smell of fresh made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.” – Hugh Jackman

“Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink coffee.” – A.J. Lee

Rita Pierson “School Starts at 8:00” (3 minutes)

June Download

 

 

Time in a Bottle

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

I came across that quote as I was preparing for our garden dedication and time capsule ceremony. It captured the feeling I had for how special this year has been to me and the impact it will have on future Buchanan students and staff. As we began the year of blending two school communities, I had one goal: Create a unified team of teachers, students, and community members. The real work of making that vision come true came from our incredible staff working together. We honored traditions from both schools and created some new ones of our own. We developed routines and practices that worked for our staff and students and the parent community supported us along the way.

Knowing that this was a special year, there was a lot of enthusiasm from the PTA to do something special. That led to the revitalization of our Buchanan Oasis Garden and months of work. Nothing brings a community together quite like working on a project together. I was filled with pride as I saw community members and staff come out on the weekends to create something special for our students. As our garden project progressed, I began to think of ways that we could capture this special moment in time. I shared the idea of a Time Capsule with the PTA and then with our staff. Now, as intriguing as the idea of a Time Capsule is, the last thing teachers probably want to hear during a VERY busy year is that we are doing one more thing in May/June. Luckily, we were able to streamline the project with some point people heading up the project from making classroom videos, to organizing the garden, to writing a song for our students to sing at the ceremony. Many hands make light work and this TEAM made it happen!

The day of the ceremony, I was a bundle of nerves…mostly because of the constant threat of rain. However, the weather held out, our students did great, and our special guests enjoyed the event. We were even able to capture the special moment with a photo of our entire school population in the revitalized garden area! The videos, artifacts, memorabilia, and other items commemorating this special year will all be sealed in a time capsule to be opened in the year 2038. Twenty years may seem far away, but looking back at how fast my last twenty years in education have gone, I know it will be here before I know it.  At that time, I look forward to visiting the school with old Buchanan friends and meeting new Buchanan friends as we find out if we can really capture Time in a Bottle!

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“Cherish all your happy moments, they make a fine cushion for old age.” – Booth Tarkington

“Life is too short not to celebrate nice moments.” – Jurgen Klopp

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

Books worth Reading

 

SEAN GAILLARD

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  • Monday, June 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly (showing Time Capsule Video) 9:05 AM, Yearbooks delivered to classrooms by PTA, 4th Grade Celebration in the afternoon (Circus Amongus)
  • Tuesday, June 12: 2nd Grade Celebration outside 10:00-11:00, Kindergarten Concert/Celebration outside 1:15 PM, grades due in by 11:59 PM
  • Wednesday, June 13: 1st grade Water Day in AM, 2nd Grade movie in East Commons 1:00 PM, Yearbook Autograph Session in garden area 2:35-3:00 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: Final Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM (Jon will take all students), Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Staff Luncheon (Joan’s retirement) 12:30 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Student Dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, June 18: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report Day)

My Hometown

I’ve always loved that song by Springsteen and it’s how I feel about my birthplace of Chicago. Even though I grew up in northern Michigan and have lived here all of my adult life, I still feel like I’m coming home every time I visit Chicago. We left Illinois when I started school and went back every year for Christmas and to visit relatives. So it was no surprise that visiting Chicago was like a homecoming.  It was a place where family gathered and reunions happened. I distinctly remember telling my grandparents that I would move back “home” when I was grown up and for a time I did consider returning after college. Now at 45 and with two daughters in high school,  I’m comfortable with the idea of just visiting Chicago and living in Michigan. However, I still have a strong bond with the Windy City that will always remain.

One of the reasons I believe I have such a fierce pride in my hometown is the fact that I’m adopted. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about my birth parents, my heritage, or any of the other things that children often take for granted. But I did know one thing, I was from Chicago! It was the only thing that I could claim as my own from birth. Everyone has a birth place and mine happened to be in one of the most interesting places in the country (especially to a boy growing up in rural Michigan). I remember going on a field trip to Chicago and beaming with pride when I shared out that I was born there and had many relatives there. I have proudly worn my Cubs jersey through many a depressing baseball season, I had a poster of Walter Payton from the Bears on my wall, and looked at Michael Jordan as the player on “my” basketball team. It was that one piece of information about myself that helped give me an identity and it was one that I was proud to share.

As educators, we need to find what our students identify with and what they feel proud of. It might be easy to identify and it might take a whole school year of digging to find out. But if we take the time to get to know our students and what motivates them, then we will be one step closer to helping them be successful in school and in life. Maybe it’s their hometown, maybe it’s their family history, maybe it’s that they dream of becoming the first person in their family to graduate. Whatever a child identifies with, find it and help them celebrate it and reach their dreams!

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“I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America.” – Sarah Bernhardt

“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.” – Dan Quayle

“Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.” – Michael Douglas
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  • Monday, June 4: Student of the Month Assembly (Kindness) 9:05 AM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, June 5: MET/IEP (Benson) 8:15 AM, Library Talk in Gym K-2 1:30 / 3rd&4th 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, June 6: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Building Based PD (Student Growth) 7:50-8:50 AM, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30 PM, Service Safety Squad Celebration in PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day! 

 

  • Monday, June 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Time Capsule Video), 4th Grade Celebration in the PM, Yearbooks go out
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Concert/Celebration 1:15 – 2:30 PM
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday, June 14: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, All-School Assembly 10:00-11:00 (Jon will take all kids so teacher can pack), Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out at 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, June 18: OPTIONAL report day, EOY Staff Party 5:30 PM

The Great Equalizer

Recently I attended the Motor City Comic Con. It’s the one day a year where I am in nerd heaven and get to see many heroes from my childhood. Over the years, I’ve met William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), and Adam West & Burt Ward (TV’s Batman & Robin). One of the things that so intrigues me about events like this is that everyone is on an equal level. The crowds are incredibly diverse with people of different races, ages, and cultures. People who are able bodied and people with severe disabilities. People dressed in costume and people dressed in suits. It’s a little like Disney World in that people are excited to be there no matter what their age and EVERYONE is treated the same.

Some people are there to celebrate the latest celebrities of pop culture and some, like me, are there for the nostalgia and to feel the magic of meeting childhood heroes. It amazes me how friendly an environment it is with so many people packed into one place and often waiting in long lines. People are happy, people are smiling, people are accepting of one another. Individuals mingling in a crowd to families and friends enjoying the day together. There is something for everyone. Comic Cons are the great equalizer of society. Everyone is treated the same (maybe a little better if you’re in costume;)

My vision of school is similar to what I see at Comic Con. Everyone is treated with respect and in a welcoming way. Age, size, color, disabilities don’t mean a thing. Everyone is on the same level. Everyone comes with an excitement for what could happen each day and from time to time get to dress up for fun events. Even people who are long since graduated come back for a stroll down memory lane to shake hands with a childhood hero…their favorite teacher! Education has also been called the Great Equalizer. It allows everyone to have opportunities they wouldn’t have had without it and is available to everyone for just walking in the door. I may only get to enjoy the excitement of Comic Con once every year, but I get to enjoy the excitement and magic of working as a principal all school year long!

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“Dad of the Year” Winner at this year’s Comic Con! 

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  • Tuesday, May 29: Round Up Planning Meeting 8:30 AM, Fire Drill 3:15 PM
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up (Parent Meetings in East Commons), Parent Meeting (Williams) 2:35 PM
  • Thursday, May 31: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, SHS Graduates (former Buchanan students) Clap Out at 11:15 AM, Garden Ceremony Rehearsal 2:00 PM (Students will be called out by grades)
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00-2:30 PM
  • Sunday, June 3: Buchanan Family Tigers Game

 

  • Monday, June 4: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, June 5: Library Talk in Gym (K-2) 1:30 PM / (3rd&4th) 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, June 6: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Building PD (Student Growth Data) 7:50-8:50 AM, Safety Service Squad Celebration in the PM,  PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day! 

 

  • Monday, June 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Time Capsule Video) 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Celebration in PM
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Concert & Celebration 1:15 – 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: Final Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM

Walks with Columbo

May can be a very stressful time for educators. Staff Evaluations, School Improvement Plans, State and District Testing are all happening at the same time as we are trying to fit in the remainder of the curriculum and other projects (Time Capsules, Renovations, etc). With all the things we need to squeeze in at the end of the school year, there is one thing that is essential to include….self care!

There are many ways we can practice self care. From eating right and exercising to simply remembering to breathe, we need to practice being good to ourselves. The old saying is true, “If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.” Educators are so good at many things, but we are often lacking when it comes to giving ourselves what we need. Just like all of you, I have my fair share of stress and I have found a way to help alleviate some of my own stress…walks with Columbo.

For those of you old enough to remember, Columbo was the lovable, bumbling detective played by Peter Falk. It was also the perfect name for our lumbering and sometimes drooling Saint Bernard. When I get home from school, I often have schedules and lists of things undone swirling through my head. I learned long ago that those things need to be let go of in order to have a happy home life. One of the ways that I have been able to do that is by my nightly walks with Columbo. Going around the neighborhood with him is very therapeutic. It clears my head, lifts my spirits, and gets my body moving. I can name most of the dogs in the neighborhood that we see on our walks, but I’d be lucky to name three of my neighbors. Our nightly walks are a time for me to take off the principal hat and just be in the moment. I take my cues from Columbo who is jumping for excitement and sniffing each fence and tree as if we have never seen them before. He is just thrilled to be walking and spending time with me. He teaches me the art of finding joy and excitement in small moments.

A mentor once told me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember,  it’s all small stuff!” My walks with Columbo remind me of that and give me the energy and peace to start fresh each day. How do you deal with stress in your life? If you ask nicely and are willing to brave a walk with a 140 pound hound, then I’d be glad to offer you the joy of Walks with Columbo!

 

Columbo at 14 pounds and 140 pounds! 

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“The measure of success is happiness and peace of mind.” – Bobby Davro

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do IF you stay in the present moment.” – Deepak Chopra

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

 

This video is guaranteed to make you smile! 

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  • Saturday, May 19: Staff Outing/Karaoke! 9:15 PM – ???
  • Sunday, May 20: St. Baldrick’s Head Shaving at The Claddaugh 4:00 PM

 

  • Monday, May 21: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, iReady Window 3 Opens (Computer lab is still closed in mornings for last week of M-STEP, but chromebooks can be used for iReady)
  • Tuesday, May 22: Building walk through by Harry Lau (prepping for summer renovations) 8:00 AM
  • Thursday, May 24: Staff Meeting Time dedicated to finalizing class groupings, 3rd Grade to Lansing
  • Friday, May 25: Volunteer Breakfast in LMC 8:15 AM, Staff & Students dismissed at 12:10 PM (M-STEP window closes)

 

  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Tuesday, May 29: Fire Drill 3:15 PM
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up, Parent Meeting (Williams) 2:35 PM
  • Thursday, May 31: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Buchanan SHS Graduates Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00-2:30 PM

 

  • Sunday, June 3: Family Tiger’s Game 1:00 PM
  • Monday, June 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, June 5: Summer Library Program Presentation in gym K-2 1:30/ 3&4 2:00, Kona Ice Truck here for staff! 4:20-4:40 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day! (iReady Window Closes)

 

  • Monday, June 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Celebration in the PM
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Concert/Celebration 1:15-2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, June 13: First Grade Water Fun 1:15-2:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Monday, June 16: Optional Work Day for Teachers, End of Year Gathering in evening!

Finishing Strong!

Last week, along with millions of others, I watched the Kentucky Derby. Now, I’m not big into horse racing, but I do try to watch the Kentucky Derby every year. It’s fun to hear all the intriguing names of the horses and see the excitement and fanfare at Churchill Downs. This year the track was wet and muddy and it amazes me that they can still run so fast through rough conditions. When they come out of the starting gates it’s a blur of color as they all burst onto the track. Soon, a few make their way to the front as they turn the corner and head down the track. First one taking the lead and then another. It’s in the final stretch of the race that all the excitement happens. The fans are cheering, the announcers are shouting, and one horse finally breaks ahead of the pack, sometimes by a nose and sometimes by length or more, to become the winner. It’s the last burst of speed and endurance just at the right time that can make a champion!

Education can be very similar to the Kentucky Derby. There is a lot of fanfare in the beginning of the year as we kick off with open houses and back to school events. We get to know the names and personalities of all our students. Sometimes we have a clear track ahead of us and some years the track is muddy and slippery, but we race down it all the same. It’s easy to have that excitement at the beginning of the year, but as the year goes on it can be exhausting. The key is to save up enough energy and spirit for that final push at the end! Our students need that encouragement as the year comes to a close and so do our teachers. I think one of the reasons that Teacher Appreciation is in May is to help give teachers that final push and encouragement that says, “You can do this! Finish strong!“.

Our students will take their lead from us if we continue to be enthusiastic until that final bell. When the halls are empty and the students are gone, then we can enjoy some rest, knowing that our race was well run. Champions finish strong at the race track and also in the classroom. Keep up your excellent work and your enthusiasm and know that you are making a difference right up to that final bell!

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JUSTIFY wins the 2018 Kentucky Derby! 

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Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” – Robin Sharma

Where you start is not as important as where you finish. – Zig Ziglar

That’s one thing you learn in sports. You don’t give up; you fight to the finish. – Louis Zamperini

 It’s funny because it’s true! 

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  • Monday, May 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 15: MET/IEP Benson 8:015 AM, All Administrator Meeting 3:00-4:30
  • Wednesday, May 16: School Improvement Team 8:15 in Conference Room
  • Thursday, May 17: Staff Meeting 8:05 (Led by Jen Cory), 4th Grade to Riley
  • Friday, May 18: Student Placement Meetings (Rotating Subs), F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Saturday, May 19: Buchanan Staff Night Out at Karaoke!!9:00 PM – ??
  • Sunday, May 20: St. Baldrick’s Event at The Claddagh  (Jon getting head shaved)
  • Monday, May 21: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (iReady Window 3 Opens)
  • Thursday, May 24: 3rd Grade to Lansing
  • Friday, May 25: Students & Staff dismissed at 12:10 PM (M-STEP Window Closes)
  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Thursday, May 31: Buchanan SHS Seniors Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00 PM
  • Sunday, June 3: Family Tiger’s Game
  • Thursday, June 7: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, Final PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day!
  • Monday, June 11: 4th Grade Celebration in the afternoon
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Outdoor Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM

Looking Back at the Future

Several years ago, I was able to check off an item from my bucket list. I recorded a CD of songs that I wrote, played, and sang. While it sounds like a one man show, it wasn’t. It was possible because of my good friend who had a recording studio, played all the other instruments, and also did all the mixing. (It’s good to have talented friends:) The name of the CD was Looking Back at the Future and was very therapeutic to me as I was going through some challenging times in my life.  Music was my outlet and helped keep me grounded. Each song had a story and captured a moment in time. The process took about a year and like all worthwhile goals, was a lot of work!

For me, recording my own songs was something I needed to do turn a dream into reality. I’m reminded of this time in my life, because I have several friends who are currently turning their own dreams into reality. Allyson Apsey,  Sean Gaillard and Debbie McFalone each have books coming out soon and they have inspired me and reminded me of dreams I have accomplished and dreams I still want to achieve. One is to follow in their footsteps and someday write an educational book myself. My goal is not to say, “Look what I’ve done“, but rather to accomplish a goal and say, “See, you can do it too!“. That’s what I take away from my friends’ success in publishing,  “I’ve told my story, now go tell yours!“.

As educators, we not only have an obligation to help our students reach their goals, but to live by example and reach ours as well. What better lesson can we teach our students than by modeling the desire and effort to make our dreams come true. Luckily for me, my ultimate goal is to do exactly what I get to do every day. Work with teachers and make a positive difference in the lives of students! One of my mentors, Paul Liabenow  often uses the term, “Living the dream“. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do just that. What dreams do you have and are you working on making them a reality?

 

 

Click to Listen to Looking Back at the Future

 

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  • Monday, May 7: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 8: Achievement Team (Gruenewald) 8:15 AM, Fire Drill 1:30 PM, Administrative Data Meeting at Central Office 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, May 9: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM (in conference room), Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, May 10: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, May 11: Sandi Benson visiting Classrooms for Video Recordings, Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting, PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, May 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 15: MET/IEP (Benson) 8:15 AM, All Administrators Meeting 3:00 PM
  • Thursday, May 17: Staff Meeting8:05 AM, 4th Grade to Riley Upper Elementary
  • Friday, May 18: Rotating Subs for K-3 Student Placement Meetings, F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Sunday, May 20: Jon getting head shaved for the St. Baldrick’s fight against childhood cancer @ The Claddagh (Just so people aren’t surprised on Monday;)
  • Monday, May 21: iReady Window 3 Opens for K-4
  • Friday, May 25: Volunteer Breakfast 8:15, Staff & Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Thursday, May 31: Buchanan Seniors from SHS Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00 PM

 

  • Sunday, June 3: Family Detroit Tigers Game 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Final PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Monday, June 11: 4th Grade Celebration in the PM (Cirque Amongus)
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM